It is amazing how much can be said about faith. But that alone is not enough. Faith must also be lived out. Is there any better place to begin than in your family? Here, in the small circle where husband, wife, and children live together. In this community, we are to live a life of faith that is genuine when tested.
But what does it mean to live out the faith? Because there is a big difference between talking about faith and living out faith practically. James raises this thought. He asks the noteworthy question, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” Such a person does not live out faith. “He says he has faith,” but he gives the poor man no clothing and no food. James then concludes that a faith that is not lived out is a “dead faith.” Sadly, worthless (see James 2:14-26).
Connecting this thought to the family, it is fair to ask, “Am I just talking about faith, or am I actually living it within my four walls? And what does that look like in reality? How clearly do my wife/husband and children perceive my faith? Does my faith lighten their load?” Questions to ponder at some point.
By the way, I could include this question in my personal devotions and Bible reading. That way I don’t just read a passage for the good Lord, but I think about the meaning and ask myself how I can put that passage into practice. Through action, faith becomes living faith. The same can be done in family devotions. This can lead to a meaningful conversation about faith and living it out. Then children learn very early on that faith should be evident through our actions.
Let’s stick with the family for a while. How can I, as a father/mother, live out my faith in such a way that my life becomes “credible?” Likely some Bible passages come to mind immediately. But isn’t there a danger that I read them carelessly and nothing changes? When I reflect, I am reminded anew that I must take God’s Word seriously. It must be lived out. Let me share some of my thoughts (guidelines in Scripture) with you.
1. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus’ words are very precious to me. They give meaning and direction to life. I believe in them, but how do I live them out? How do I as a father/mother act upon them so that my children experience my real faith and I can be an example to them? Aren’t there many opportunities? For example, when a general cleaning of the church building is announced, and it’s a given that I help out; when my salary is paid and I place my offering in the donation box; when it is mentioned that the sick and elderly are lonely and we, as a family, visit them shortly afterwards.
2. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). Especially in the relationship between husband and wife, parents and children, things can happen that endanger peace. Differing opinions clash, words are spoken, feelings are easily hurt, people feel misunderstood and treated unfairly. Tension is in the air. What now? Now is the time to live out your faith and be a peacemaker.
3. “Love does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Love is not selfish, not seeking personal advantage. “ME first” are words that should not be spoken. Things don’t always have to go my way. It becomes so complicated, especially in the family circle, when everyone insists on their right and their opinion. It is precisely at this point that faith must become reality. What does this look like in practice? When I seek the welfare of my spouse and children, then I don’t take the biggest piece of cake. I can forgo buying something for myself and buy something for my spouse instead. Our children have a great advantage when they learn this principle at home. By doing so, we lay a valuable foundation for their lives that will later have a beneficial effect at school, at work, in the church family, and also in society.
4. “Forgive one another” (Colossians 3:13). The topic of “forgiveness” is mentioned relatively often in the Bible. One can conclude that it is absolutely necessary. And it is true. We essentially live by it. God forgives us, and we forgive each other for a wrong that has occurred. One man shared how his wife always becomes “historical” whenever something happens in their marriage. The other said, “You can’t mean historical, you mean ‘hysterical.’” “But yes,” he said, “she becomes ‘historical.’ She always drags up things from the past.” – That’s how it happens. But not in our case, right? It’s far better to grant one another forgetful forgiveness and thus live together in harmony.
5. “Be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). The opposite of thankfulness is grumbling, whining, and complaining. This is evident by a critical and negative attitude. Imagine a home where gratitude is absent. There is grumbling at the dinner table about the meal. Negative comments are made about others. The mother does not hear a word of thanks. The father is the object of constant criticism, and all this in the presence of the children. Could we consider this as “dead” faith, as James called it? I want to be grateful – at home and around everyone. Will you join me? How about living out our faith today by gifting a word of thanks to our spouse?
That was just a small selection of Bible verses. It is highly recommended that we take them to heart. However, it is only the beginning. The Bible is a substantial volume. A songwriter wrote, “Ev’ry precept You have spoken is essential to our life.” Next time you pick up your Bible, why not say softly, “O treasured Word of God! Help me live these words!” God will help us do so.
There is no greater endorsement for Christianity than genuine faith.
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